However, he has fought back and reached his first semi-final at Roland Garros since 2009.
Both new-look pairings went out in the first round.
-Tennis Channel Plus features up to 10 courts of live action from Roland Garros beginning Sunday, May 27 at 5:00am ET. "It has to be a player that plays extremely well", said the Swede.
The 6-foot-6 (1.98-meter) Argentine wiped away tears during his on-court interview, telling fans who chanted his nickname, "delPo": "It has been a long time without good feelings on my body". I have had three surgeries on my left wrist and I was close to quitting.
Looking ahead to the final and recalling Thiem's victory over Nadal in Madrid, a exhausted del Potro uttered: "Maybe on Sunday (Thiem) can repeat".
The 29-year-old was in tears after the win. And he set up a French Open final that, pardon the cliché, is a worthy clash between the king of clay and the man hailed as the prince.
In 2011, Thiem beat his esteemed compatriot, 6-2, 6-3, in just over an hour on the indoor hardcourt of Vienna and still had to work hard to handle the heavy left-handed serve of the former world No 1.
Rafael Nadal is coming off a straight sets win over Juan Martín del Potro that took 25 games to decide.
Increasingly frustrated at Cecchinato's resistance, Thiem lost his composure completely in the second set. Nadal is 49-2 since 2017 when playing on clay.
His ravenous will to win this title for an 11th time - a figure that feels weighty enough to merit Roman numerals instead - was on display Friday as he made a three-set meal of Argentina's Juan Martin del Potro. After holding there, Nadal broke del Potro to take that set and was on his way, taking 14 of the last 17 games.
Del Potro recovered well, though, breaking back in the next game.
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He fired long on a first set point, Nadal saved the second with a jaw-dropping drop shot but on the third, just after the match was interrupted for a few minutes while an unwell spectator was evacuated, Schwartzman unleashed a stunning forehand victor down the line - his 20th victor.
"And I had a lot of break points in the first set".
"For me, the motivation to play here always is high, high as possible". He canceled the third one with a fine drop shot close to the net.
At just 19, Nadal became the youngest victor of a Grand Slam title since Michael Chang won at Roland Garros in 1989 at 17.
Charmingly, despite Nadal's accomplishments, he's still prone to nerves when he steps on center court here.
However, having squandered one set point, he went in for a simple backhand volley victor only to dump it into the net. And he did just that, easier opponent notwithstanding, with a 7-5, 7-6 (12/10), 6-1 win.
"And if he would have won the tiebreak, he would be full power, for sure, in the third set".
Thiem was quick to respond, reeling off the next three games to take the set in 46 minutes.
The 10-time champion needed a downpour on Wednesday evening to rescue him from a deluge of break points, five of which were converted by tricky Argentinian Diego Schwartzman.
While a player's Grand Slam record is what is talked about most, the debate for the greatest single-surface player would be rendered incomplete without a look at their performance on the surface across tournaments.
The pair had resumed their quarter-final level at 5-5 in a first-set tie-break.
The women's semifinals are also on Thursday's schedule.
Simona Halep celebrates her victory against Garbine Muguruza.